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How to stay organized at work

Julie Bielenberg is a Denver-based writer who served as managing editor for a regional home and lifestyle publication before starting Tweeter Communications, her editorial services boutique. With a BA in journalism from the University of...

Streamline your work

Maintaining a clean, organized workspace not only helps improve workflow, but also portrays an image of professionalism. A messy desk, bulletin board full of photos and a week's worth of food on top of the computer is not the message you want to be channeling at work. Try these helpful organizational ideas to make your workspace the envy of the office.

woman at work with clean desk

minimize Clutter

Co-workers give you cute little trinkets for your birthday, the office manager hands out hideous awards each month, and the boss lady loves to pass off her corporate freebies such as the latest snow globe or paperclip holder. Don't sweat it. Find a drawer to store all these knickknacks. Hold onto them so you don't offend anyone, and display a different one each week. If you are tight on space and have no file drawer or shelf, purchase an inexpensive under-the-desk storage container or file box to hold these "gifts."

Paper Storm

The TPS reports in the movie Office Space were no joke: You are bombarded by papers daily, your file drawers are packed and you aren't sure what to hold onto or dump. Enter the world of scanners! Your office probably already has one; they are often tied into fax machines and copiers. Scan receipts, papers, memos and anything else clogging your space into a PDF or other easily readable format. Label the scans clearly and back them up with a zip or thumb drive if you are feeling paranoid. This way, you can easily access them, and the actual document can be recycled. If you happen to need that one receipt, it's only a click away.

The Soda-Can Scramble

Some people have no fear of leaving an office space horribly dirty, yet they'd never leave an empty can of soda on their countertops at home. Recycle cans, cups, plates, silverware and any other food-related items after you are done. An office loaded with empty coffee cups and pop cans is a germ fest. A clean space says you're a clean person and you have a serious attitude toward work.

Leave the Family at Home

We all have the cutest children and pets in the world! But there's no need for a shrine for them at work. Limit photos and school artwork to a few that really have meaning. Finger paintings hanging from every crevice, and pictures of Max the dog or Sparky the cat on every cubicle wall might give co-workers the wrong impression.

Quick and Easy Tips

  • If you're really missing your family and pets at work, create a monthly calendar with a different photo each month of a pet or child. This way, you are reminded daily of your loved ones -- as they help you stay organized.
  • Devote time every week to cleaning off your desk. Whether it's that last 15 minutes on a Friday or first thing Monday morning, remove the clutter or it can take over your job.
  • Don't be afraid to disinfect your space. It's okay to use wipes, sprays and other cleaning products -- co-workers won't think you have cooties. There are special air sprays for computers and wipes for screens. Don't forget to disinfect the phone and any other area that frequently comes in contact with germs. Who wants to start the weekend with a cold or the flu?

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